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Thursday, August 1, 2013
State of recruiting: Michigan

By Tom VanHaaren and Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The Michigan football offseason has been pretty interesting for the Wolverines. They transitioned from an offense catered to Denard Robinson to one built around pro-style QB Devin Gardner. Michigan has worked to rehabilitate running back Fitzgerald Toussaint as the team awaits the highly touted Derrick Green. And the offensive and defensive lines have incorporated many new (and young) faces.

But it was also a very interesting off-season for future Wolverine teams. The 2014 class took shape, picking up some very impressive commitments while the 2015 class began to find its identity with four commitments already. Heading in to fall camp next week, here are where both classes stand.

2014 CLASS
Commits:
14 | ESPN 300 commits: 9

ESPN 300 targets

DL Malik McDowell | 6-foot 5, 260 pounds
Southfield, Mich./Southfield
ESPN 300 Rank: 67


The top in-state target for the Wolverines could end up making a decision sooner rather than later, and it looks pretty good for Michigan. He is currently saying he wants to wait until the Army All-America game, but we’ll see if that timeline sticks.

DaShawn Hand
Defensive end Da'Shawn Hand, the No. 4 overall player in the ESPN 300, is Michigan's top out-of-state target.
DL Da'Shawn Hand | 6-4, 262
Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge
ESPN 300 Rank: No. 4


The No. 2 prospect in the nation has named Michigan’s coaching staff his favorite, and the Wolverines also look to be in a good spot to land this top lineman. Hand wants to make his decision at the end of December but will be in Ann Arbor for an official visit on Sept. 7 for the Notre Dame night game. With limited spots left and the process taking its course, it doesn’t seem out of the question for Hand to make his decision sooner than December.

OLB Dwight Williams | 6-1, 201
Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra
ESPN 300 Rank: 177


Michigan could use another top outside linebacker, and Williams fits the bill. He will also be in attendance for the Notre Dame game, but Michigan might be behind for Williams.

DB Parrker Westphal | 6-0, 185
Bolingbrook, Ill./Bolingbrook
ESPN 300 Rank: 92


A former Michigan player coaches this defensive back, and so Westphal hears about Michigan constantly (and from the school, as well). He fits the mold for the D-backs that Greg Mattison is bringing in.

DB John "JuJu" Smith | 6-1, 206
Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Poly
ESPN 300 Rank: 41


Smith is an athlete and could help fill a few holes at Michigan. He could play offense or defense and is the kind of guy you bring in and figure out where he fits best later on. Smith will be visiting for the Notre Dame game.

DB Adoree' Jackson | 5-10, 182
Gardena, Calif./Junipero Serra
ESPN 300 Rank: 6


Jackson has joked with Jabrill Peppers about being the No. 1 and No. 2 cornerbacks out the 2014 class and how both could dominate together on the college field. Michigan seems like a longer shot for pulling Jackson off the west coast, but it’s possible.

2015 CLASS
Commits:
4 | ESPN 300 commits: 2

ESPN 300 targets

ATH Jacques Patrick | 6-2, 200
Orlando, Fla./Timber Creek
ESPN Jr. 300 Rank: 231


Patrick has taken notice of Michigan’s recent 2015 commitments, and it could impact his recruitment. It’s too early to tell where Michigan stands, but he is interested in the Wolverines.

ATH Osa Masina | 6-4, 208
Salt Lake City/Brighton
ESPN Jr. 300 Rank: 168


Masina just came up to Ann Arbor with his mother for the barbecue, which was their first time on campus. It’s too early to predict where he will end up, but the Michigan visit did make an impression the young athlete.

ATH Brian Cole | 6-2, 199
Saginaw, Mich./Saginaw Heritage
ESPN Jr. 300 Rank: 147


The No. 2 prospect in the state of Michigan, Cole is a recruit who could be an asset to the Wolverines’ offense. He is a priority for the staff and could be an excellent complement to receiver commit George Campbell (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake).

DB Shaun Crawford | 5-9, 168
Lakewood, Ohio/St. Edward
ESPN Jr. Rank: 49


The Wolverines are the leader for the No. 3 player out of Ohio. He and his parents are planning to sit down and discuss when a decision could come. It is looking like it will be before or during his season, but that could change depending on circumstances.

DE Jashon Cornell | 6-3, 245
St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall
ESPN Jr. Rank: 1


The No. 1 prospect in the nation will be visiting for the Michigan-Notre Dame night game this fall. He is definitely aware of the two big commitments Michigan picked up for 2015, and those commitments might have helped push Michigan further up his list.

DT Joshua Alabi | 6-4, 248
Detroit/Cass Tech
ESPN Jr. Rank: 51


The top in-state prospect in the 2015 class is, not surprisingly, from Cass Tech. And though the Wolverines have missed on a few Technicians recently, they’re working hard on bringing Alabi to Ann Arbor.

OT Sterling Jenkins | 6-8, 290
Pittsburgh/Baldwin
ESPN Jr. Rank: 75


Jenkins was on campus for the barbecue last weekend and thoroughly enjoyed himself. Several of the 2014 commits made a point of recruiting him, and he came away very impressed. He says he doesn’t yet have enough information to make a decision, but Michigan will be right in the mix for him.

TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. | 6-6, 235
Buffalo, N.Y./Canisius
ESPN Jr. Rank: 217


Wheatley might not be deciding any time soon, but an early offer from the Wolverines was definitely welcomed by the son of the former star running back. Wheatley Jr. wants to pave his own path, but at the same time has strong feelings for the Wolverines.